Doctor accused of serious misconduct
A doctor suspended after formal complaints from 16 colleagues will not return to work until the disciplinary process is concluded.
The unnamed doctor, who has worked at her practice since 2007, has been suspended since December.
In a decision released today, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) denied the doctor's bid to end her suspension from work while the disciplinary process was completed.
The doctor, who was granted name suppression and only referred to as ''Dr X'', filed an injunction asking that she be allowed to continuing practising pending the outcome of the disciplinary meeting.
Dr X was the subject of a complaint signed by 16 of her colleagues in August last year, which accused her of behaviours that were ''impacting on her ability both to manage clients and to manage workplace relationships''.
It went on to say Dr X created an ''atmosphere of blame'' within the practice team which resulted in staff ''feeling uncomfortable and unsafe talking about their clinical practice''.
In October 2011, the manager and a nurse at Dr X's practice laid written complaints against her, saying Dr X burst into the manager's office during a meeting with the nurse, demanding to know what was being discussed and refusing to leave.
The next month, a junior nurse told her supervisor she was concerned about Dr X's approach to prescribing medication to a potentially vulnerable patient without following accepted protocols.
In December, Dr X was stood down from duties, on full pay, pending the outcome of an investigation about the complaints.
A workplace investigation was completed by mid-April this year, and the resulting report contained four behaviours which were considered ''serious misconduct''.
The service director of the practice sent the letter to Dr X saying the workplace report was ''disturbing reading'' and that dismissal was a potential outcome.
An independent district health board report was also completed last month, which said Dr X's treatment of a patient had ''not been safe'' and protocols to minimise risk had not been followed.
It also said there were insufficient documentation, prescription completion and problems with Dr X's instruction to the pharmacist.
The reason given by the health board for Dr X's continued suspension was that ''the alleged conduct, if proved, would mean the employee should not have direct contact with patients/clients''.
Two other doctors have backed Dr X's bid to return to work pending a final disciplinary meeting.
However, ERA member David Appleton ruled that there were ''sufficiently serious concerns'' to justify Dr X's continued suspension.
''If Dr X were to be reinstated to clinical practice now, with the final disciplinary hearing hanging over her, it is possible that she would suffer further significant stress which could impact upon her clinical judgement,'' he said.
The final disciplinary meeting regarding Dr X would take place on July 19.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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